Good article (Allegany buck kill down 60 percent since 2001). I’m glad you are addressing some of the reasons us average Joes believe the buck kill is down. I’m tired of constant excuses like the acorn theories.
One thing. In your article you stated maybe the kill numbers are down because hunters are passing small bucks up. I don’t think that is accurate because if those hunters have been doing so for the past two or three years, eventually the kill numbers would start to climb back up once those deer mature, right?
I think the major issues behind the numbers are as follows.
Predation being number one. We have a larger bear population which has increased as the deer population has decreased.
I don’t believe the bears play as significant of an impact however as the coyotes do. How many hunters do you know who coyote hunt? I don’t know any who actually dedicate time to coyote hunting. They are everywhere. I even had coyote pictures this fall on my trail cam in my backyard.
I believe crossbows are having somewhat of an impact. I am a crossbow hunter and like the fact that they are accurate, ethical and don't require the same skills as a regular bow because I don’t have the time to practice at this stage of my life. However, we may need to adjust the seasons.
Poaching. I believe this goes on a lot. With the telephone check in you are more or less on the honor system. Personally, I thought check in stations were a great way for local businesses to bring in customers. It helped keep hunters honest as well.
In my opinion Maryland needs to make drastic changes to the bag limits. This year’s change in the overall statewide buck limit was a step in the right direction. I don’t believe it is enough though. I propose a two-buck per season limit in our region. Doesn't matter what weapon you use but once you kill two, you’re done. Same with the does. I believe there are a whole lot less of them running around as well.
Get rid of the late bow season. During this time of the year deer are under a lot of stress due to the weather as well as three and a half months of hunting pressure. Additionally, those still hunting are more than likely using bait. Deer may travel long distances for the bait burning a lot of calories making them vulnerable. I’m not against baiting though just doing so late in the winter.
I believe all of us are willing to make some changes because what we are doing now isn’t working. It sure does make for a long, boring season when you aren’t seeing much.
Recalls deer heyday
Good column Sunday. I am glad we both hunted during the heyday of deer hunting when bands of deer moved back and forth all day.
The first day of (Maryland) rifle season this year I hunted from dark to dark and saw one deer. The Department of Natural Resources’ statement that the low deer harvest was caused by the acorn crop was an insult. To date for all seasons, our 18-member club killed three small bucks on 800 acres. Doe hunting should be curtailed to build up the deer population.